Conversion Rates 101: The Basics

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Measuring Conversions

When I begin any digital marketing campaign, the very first item on my checklist is to set up conversion tracking in Google Analytics as well as any applicable online ad platforms (i.e. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.). The reason is simple. If you’re not tracking users on your website, then digital marketing loses much of its advantage over traditional marketing.

Once conversions have been set up, how do you know if the number of conversions you’re receiving is good? That’s where the conversion rate metric steps in. Conversion rate is defined as the number of conversions divided by the number of site (or page) visits.

What Conversion Rate Should I Aim For?

Conversion rates will vary depending on a variety of factors: industry, acquisition channel, device type, and much more. Many people have researched average conversion rates by industry, but I don’t necessarily think trying to meet an average conversion rate is the most valuable use of time. If not through industry research, how should we determine what the right conversion rate is for your specific business? I think Brandon Weaver said it best in his post for Instapage: “A good conversion rate is one that’s higher than it is now.”

It sounds overly simplistic, but Brandon makes a valuable point. Before thinking about improving your conversion rate, you need a baseline metric to base improvement off. Take a statistically significant sample size of conversions if possible (100+). Once you know this baseline conversion rate, it’s time to work on increasing the percentage of people who convert.

How Do I Improve My Conversion Rate?

A low conversion rate could mean that your site or landing page design is making it difficult or inefficient to complete tasks. However, improving your conversion rate isn’t a “set it and forget it” type of process. Instead, changes made to the website need to be constantly monitored or A/B tested against a control group.

For most of our clients here at Asen, conversions usually come in the form of either a phone call or form submission. Therefore, I’ll primarily focus on ways to improve those two metrics. Below are some changes to test, with the ultimate goal of improving your landing page’s conversion rate:

  • Exclude unnecessary fields on forms
  • Make your phone number prominent and easily clickable from mobile
  • Test different headlines
  • Ensure the conversion action (or at least a way to access it) is above the fold
  • Use high-quality images and video to make a compelling case to users
  • Test content length (short and to the point or an in-depth explanation of all benefits)
  • Write clear and compelling copy
  • Utilize customer testimonials

Should I Always Try To Increase Conversion Rate?

The short answer is no. Using an example from above, what would happen if I removed all fields except the name field from a contact form? Sure, you may get more form submissions resulting in a higher conversion rate, but what can you do with form submissions? Not much. Always keep the ultimate business goal in mind when trying to improve conversion rates. Conversion rate should an important, but not the only, metric to help determine whether your website or digital marketing campaigns are working properly.

There are other reasons why a decreasing conversion rate might not necessarily be a bad sign. If you’re running a display advertising campaign, that traffic tends to convert at a much lower rate (with the notable exception of remarketing display ads). These campaigns are generally designed to increase brand awareness rather than generate immediate conversions. This doesn’t mean your site is performing worse, but it will cause the overall conversion rate to decrease.


Conversion rate can be a very powerful tool for measuring how successfully your website turns visitors into leads. However, it’s important to take other numbers into consideration alongside overall conversion rates. Ensure you’re measuring the close-rate of the leads you collect and look at cost-per-conversion if you’re running an advertising campaign. Don’t forget that in order to effectively understand conversion rate, you should break conversion rate down by acquisition channel and new versus returning visitors.

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